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June 9, 2008
Tonight: Play it cool by staying cool / Photo
Journal photo / Frieda Squires
Malory Cameron, left and Patty Condry, both of Newport, cooled off today by jumping off the Van Zandt Pier, Washington Street, Newport. Cameron, a bartender, and Condry, who works banquets, said the still-cold water felt great.
It's 94 degrees out -- as of 7 p.m.
So it's probably best to play it cool tonight by staying cool.
It's been a day of record-breaking temperatures. More unseasonally high heat is in tomorrow's forecast.
Tomorrow is expected to be sunny with a high near 95 degrees. But the today's northwesterly winds will swing around to the southwest. And heat index values could make it feel as high as 101, according to the National Weather Service.
Seek refuge in air-conditioning, if you can, before a cold front begins to move in later this week.
Tomorrow night there is a chance of scattered thunderstorms, largely between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. Wednesday.
For those who do plan to venture out tonight, check projo.com's club listings. Sorry, you'll have to call ahead to find out about that air conditioning.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 7:10 PM
Update: No Regents' vote on new superintendent needed
PROVIDENCE -- The state Department of Education has determined that prospective superintendent Thomas M. Brady is eligible to receive a superintendent’s certificate, according to a spokesman for the education commissioner.
Today, the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education was supposed to vote on whether to grant Brady a waiver from the certificate, but Commissioner Peter McWalters told the board that no action was necessary because Brady apparently has the credentials to satisfy the state regulations.
The state educators’ certification office has yet to approve Brady’s request for certification, but education department spokesman Elliot Krieger said he expects that the board will act quickly since Brady is scheduled to arrive here in mid-July.
“The Regents don’t have to do anything,” Krieger said today. “The certification office has to review the waiver. Brady does seem to meet the qualifications.”
Brady, who is interim superintendent of the Philadelphia school district, has a non-traditional resume. After a 25-year career in the Army, Brady was appointed chief executive officer of the Fairfax, Va., school district. In 2004, he enrolled in the Broad Center, a nationally recognized program that trains military and private CEOs to become urban school leaders. The state Department of Education apparently considers the one-year Broad program as roughly equivalent to a graduate degree in education.
-- Journal staff writer Linda Borg
The state certification office is also giving Brady credit for teaching at the college level, although the certificate calls for teaching in a public school. Brady also has extensive management experience, both in the military and in urban education.
Brady was appointed superintendent here in March a week after Supt. Donnie Evans announced that he would step down in September.
The Regents postponed acting on the waiver last week because the certification office hadn’t had the opportunity to review Brady’s credentials. A special regents’ meeting was convened today to revisit the request, which came from Mayor David N. Cicilline.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:27 PM
Rhode Islanders injured in 2-vehicle crash on I-495
HOPKINTON, Mass. -- A Rhode Island woman driving south on Interstate 495 in Massachusetts lost control of her Honda minivan, struck a second vehicle and rolled over. Three children and two women were injured.
State police say 37-year-old Ana Rosario, 65-year-old Alida Cruz-Valdez, both of Providence, and a child who was ejected from the vehicle were flown by helicopter to the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester after the crash about 7:30 a.m. Monday.
The two other children were taken by ambulance to Milford Hospital. The two girls and a boy suffered serious injuries.
Trooper Thomas Murphy says the accident is under investigation. The highway was shut down temporarily, causing long traffic backups, but was cleared about three hours later.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:34 PM
Providence opens shelter, distributes water, fans
PROVIDENCE -- Providence's Emergency Management Agency has opened an emergency shelter at the Da Vinci Center, 401 Charles St., from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and tomorrow and, according to the news release from the mayor's office, is making arrangements to open more "cooling shelters" in the city.
Also, along with safety precautions in the schools tomorrow due to expected oppressive hot weather, city officials said Providence is in the process of distributing 1,800 bottles of water in Kennedy Plaza, to recreation centers, and to other parts of the city. The water will be distributed using the city's police department cruisers.
The city EMA has reached out to the Providence Public Library and senior centers, which it said are prepared for extra visitors.
Officials encouraged residents to visit one of the following library branches anytime between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.:
* Rochambeau, 708 Hope St.
* Mt. Pleasant, 315 Academy Ave.
* Knight Memorial, 275 Elmwood Ave.
* Central Library Branch, 150 Empire St.
* Fox Point, 90 Ives St.
* Olneyville, 1 Olneyville Square
The mayor's senior services office has "reached out to all of the city’s high rises and senior centers" to offer help to people and to encourage those living in units without air conditioners to go to community rooms.
The senior services office will also start distributing fans to seniors in need tomorrow, the news release said.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:16 PM
Mammoth hospital merger application filing takes days
Boxes of documents standing 30 feet high thumped into the Office of the Attorney General on Friday, as Lifespan and Care New England began filing their long-awaited application to merge into a seven-hospital conglomerate.
A similar set of documents -- 50,000 pages, assembled in three-ring binders, packed into 30 boxes -- also landed at the state Department of Health.
And, by the end of business today, it still wasn’t over.
As befitting a plan expected to transform the state’s health-care system, the application is so mammoth that the mere process of filing it is taking days. Both paper and electronic versions are being sent.
“It will take a few days for the application to be fully filed and the regulatory process to begin,” said Jane Bruno, Lifespan spokeswoman.
The paper version arrived Friday but there were technical issues with the electronic version, Bruno said.
“We’re not saying we’ve officially received an application,” said Andrea Bagnall Degos, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, acknowledging only the receipt of paper documents.
-- Journal medical writer Felice J. Freyer
Michael J. Healey, spokesman for Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, said that officials are checking to see that both agencies have identical material. They’re also sorting out some legal technicalities and devising an index system so that the two agencies can study the electronic application simultaneously without duplicating efforts or missing anything, Healey said.
Once Lynch and Health Director David R. Gifford accept the application, they have 30 days to decide whether it is complete.
The Health Department will have five staffers plus a lawyer review the application, although they won’t be working on it full-time, Bagnall Degos said. Lynch has expects at least five lawyers, along with several senior paralegals, to review the application.
Lifespan did not have pay an application fee. But Healey said that the work would not incur new costs for taxpayers because the legal staffers do not get paid overtime and will work on the merger application in addition to their other duties. “It’s just something we’ve got to do,” he said.
Lifespan and Care New England announced plans to merge in July, with the “goal” of completing the application within a month or two.
But the process turned out to be more complicated than hospital officials expected. It took until December for the state to draw up the application form. Also, Bruno said, Lifespan originally thought it would need only to file applications for the three Care New England hospitals; instead, the state agencies required complete documentation from each of the seven hospitals, plus the two parent companies -- three times more than expected.
If the application is approved, the new Lifespan will encompass the four hospitals that now comprise Lifespan -- Rhode Island, Miriam, Newport and Bradley -- plus the three Care New England hospitals -- Women & Infants, Butler and Kent. Together the new organization would control about 70 percent of hospital services in the state.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:14 PM
Heat wave reduces electricity surplus in New England
HOLYOKE, Mass. -- The heat wave has sharply reduced a surplus of electricity in New England as people use more energy to cool down.
The operator of New England's power grid reported high electricity demand and a tight supply today, with expectations of a slightly tighter supply on Tuesday in the six-state region.
Holyoke-based ISO New England Inc. expects to have adequate system capacity including a required power reserve on Tuesday, but the surplus will be much smaller than usual.
The company projects energy use to peak at about 27,000 megawatts tomorrow, up from nearly 26,000 on Monday. As temperatures cool, the surplus is expected to grow beginning Wednesday. The region's all time peak power use was set Aug. 2, 2006, at 28,130 megawatts.
In a May release of reliability assessment findings, which gauge how well the region’s power grids are prepared for hot weather, the Northeast Power Coordinating Council predicted the Northeast will have "sufficient" electricity this summer, even under extremely hot and humid conditions.
The only situation in which the electricity supply may be overtaxed is the combination of extreme weather conditions, such as a prolonged heat wave with high humidity, along with "severe resource unavailability," or the outage of several power plants in the region, the NPCC said. Under those circumstances, the New England and New York power grids might need to implement procedures that cut demand, such as asking people to conserve electricity. "This scenario is unlikely to occur," the council said.
The Northeast Power Coordinating Council, which works to improve the reliability of the power grid in seven states and parts of Canada.
-- With reports from The Associated Press and Providence Journal staff writer Timothy C. Barmann
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:50 PM
DOT wins award for 'innovative' delivery of Iway bridge
PROVIDENCE -- The state Department of Transportation’s dramatic delivery of the new Providence River Bridge by barge in August 2006 after a dozen-mile trip up the Bay has won the agency an award for innovation from a group representing transportation officials.
The arch bridge is now the most prominent part of the agency’s biggest project, the relocation of a section of Route 195 and its interchange with Route 95.
The award for innovative management, from the Northeast Association of State Transportation Officials, also puts the DOT in the running for a national award from the organization’s parent, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. That organization represents transportation officials in all 50 states and is a source for construction standards and other technical services.
The region the DOT won in includes the six New England States, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
“The Department is extremely proud of the Iway project and this recognition,” DOT Director Michael Lewis said.
He said that building the bridge elsewhere and floating it to Providence "was the safest, most efficient means of constructing it. It was a great feat of engineering.”
Lewis became head of the department in March after managing a much bigger bit of engineering: Boston’s Big Dig.
-- Journal staff writer Bruce Landis
The conventional way to build a bridge is to assemble it in place, piece by piece. That is how the rest of the new bridge, much less complicated than the arch section, was built.
But building a bridge in place is challenging because most of the work has to be done from barges. The Providence River Bridge’s design, meanwhile, yielded a single unit that could be picked up and moved intact. Cardi Corp., the general contractor, chose to build at Pier 2 at Quonset Point/Davisville -- a large, flat, stable area that would support the bridge during assembly and allow Cardi maneuver its cranes and other equipment around it.
The mover, Dutch-based Mammoet Corp, specializes in moving extremely large and heavy objects like offshore oil-drilling rigs. It jacked the bridge up 30 feet, so it would fit over the bridge’s concrete piers when it arrived, and used self-propelled transporters to move it onto two 300-foot barges.
Spectators watched from both sides of the Bay during an uneventful trip to Providence on the morning of Aug. 27.
Designed by William D. Warner architects and engineered by Maguire Associates, the bridge is unusual in the United States. Called a network arch, its deck is supported by cables hung diagonally from the steel arches. According to the DOT, it’s also unique in having three arches rather than two.
The competition has three categories: "On Time," "On Budget," and "Innovative Management." The latter, where the DOT was successful, “recognizes new policies or procedures and creative transportation solutions that enhance the effective movement of people, goods and services; increase transportation efficiency and choices; improve safety, accessibility and aid traffic management; and enhance community life.”
If the DOT wins nationally, it could also be good news for the University of Rhode Island. A "substantial" monetary award goes to the winning state Department of Transportation to donate to a university to assist a student pursuing a graduate degree in transportation, and the DOT maintains close ties with URI’s civil engineers.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:32 PM
Update: Excessive heat watch canceled
The National Weather Service late today announced that an excessive heat watch for the region has been canceled.
"Important but lesser heat advisory conditions are expected Tuesday afternoon but excessive heat warning conditions are not likely," according to a news release.
So the watch for the "more dangerous excessive heat conditions
has been discontinued" for northern Rhode Island and interior southeastern Massachusetts.
Get the latest on area conditions, forecasts and more at: projo.com/weather
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:22 PM
Update: Heat wave putting pressure on area schools
As the region faces unusually high temperatures for this early in the season -- and before schools are out -- at least one Rhode Island school system closed schools early today, while others are mulling what they should do tomorrow.
Predictions of poor air quality, high humidity and temperatures in the mid-90s prompted the cancellation of afternoon classes in Pawtucket public schools today, with students scheduled to be dismissed right after lunch, School Supt. Hans W. Dellith said.
Dellith declined to give exact dismissal times, saying he was “too busy” to talk to a reporter. Just when students are sent home will vary, he said, from school to school.
Scituate schools cancelled activities today, while others without air conditioning are deciding what to do tomorrow.
By 3:05 p.m., the Providence area had tied, then broke, then broke again a record high for the date of 95 degrees, set in 1984 The second high temperature of the day hit 97 degrees.
While dozens of schools in Connecticut sent students home early, Providence decided to keep schools open. The School Department issued a statement this afternoon, saying the schools were taking "necessary steps" to ensure students are safe and that it plans to keep schools open tomorrow, too.
The Providence School Department said it was keeping students inside and is giving them bottled water to keep them hydrated. The school department said it would "monitor the needs of students" on buses this afternoon and that emergency personnel would distribute bottled water when it's necessary.
It also advised parents to dress their children in light, loose-fitting clothes, to limit physical activity and keep them in air-conditioning when possible.
Parents with questions can call the Parent Call Center at 456-0686.
Classes will be dismissed early tomorrow in the Bristol-Warren public school districts and in Seekonk, Mass., due to the forecasted excessive heat.
“It’s unbearable in the buildings,” Seekonk schools Supt. Emile Chevrette said this afternoon of his school system, where only a handful of classrooms have air conditioning. “It’s very difficult for learning to take place in these conditions. It’s best to take precautions.”
North Providence Public Schools say they will dismiss classes tomorrow after lunch. Tiverton public schools also say they will dismiss classes early.
Keep up with notices of closings and dismissals via this service provided by the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association.
Read tips from the state Department of Health for protecting yourself from hot weather.
-- Journal staff writer John Castellucci, Meaghan Wims and The Associated Press reports
In Pawtucket, the Department of Public Works, which has many employees who work outside, no one was being sent home early, but outdoor activities were being cut back and monitored, DPW Director John E. Carney said.
Workers in DPW’s sanitation division started early, at 6 a.m., instead of 7 a.m., Carney said, so they could finish their trash collection routes before the humidity became oppressive and the heat became intense.
Over in Seekonk, Mass., those lucky enough to have the day off were cooling off.
The Seekonk Swimming & Tennis Club, on Davis Street, has been busy all weekend. On Sunday, says manager Kim Pellerin, “It was flying.”
Today during school hours, “a lot of moms and little kids” were enjoying the club’s 170,000-gallon main pool and baby pool, with water temperatures at about 76 degrees. Pellerin said she expected many Pawtucket kids would soon arrive at the club for a dip with school dismissing early.
Those looking to cool off at Rhode Island beaches should know that two beaches -- Conimicut Point Beach in Warwick and Mackerel Cove Beach in Jamestown -- are closed because of high bacteria counts.
Posted by Jack Perry at 4:10 PM
Firefighters at Elmwood residence fire in Providence
PROVIDENCE -- Crews are at the scene of a fire at a residence in the area of Elmwood Avenue and Sawyer Street this afternoon, fire dispatch reports.
More information is not yet available.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:00 PM
Update: At 97 degrees, heat breaks R.I. record by 2
The Providence area sweated and sweltered on its way to a new record for this day, with temperatures hitting 97 degrees.
The previous record of 95 degrees was set in 1984, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick hit the 97-degree mark at 3:03 p.m. The area had hit the 96-degree mark as of 2:02 p.m., and tied the old record of 95 degrees as of 1:01 p.m.
The hot weather is driving Rhode Island to seek relief at the shore and so far has closed schools in Pawtucket.
Get the latest temperatures for Providence and other places around Rhode Island at projo.com/weather.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Your turn: Does the heat wave lift you to poetic heights? Post your hot-weather haiku
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:50 PM
State board OK's Brady to serve as Prov. schools chief
The state Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education has approved a special exception for Thomas M. Brady, selected as the new Providence schools superintendent, to take the position without having a doctoral degree.
Brady, who has been interim superintendent of the Philadelphia school district, meets most state requirements, except for not having attending a formal graduate program in education and not teaching in a public school.
Mayor David R. Cicilline sought a waiver from the Board of Regents on the grounds that Brady has significant experience -- some 25 years of military service and his decade-long career in top management positions in large urban public schools.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Jennifer D. Jordan and Journal archival reports
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:42 PM
Father-in-law testifies in Entwistle double murder trial
WOBURN, Mass. -- A British man accused of fatally shooting his wife and baby daughter asked if they could be buried together because “that’s the way I left them,” his father-in-law testified today.
Neil Entwistle is charged in the January 2006 killings of his wife, Rachel, 27, and their daughter, Lillian Rose, 9 months, in their rented Hopkinton, Mass., home. Prosecutors allege Entwistle was in debt and dissatisfied with his sex life when he shot his family, then bought a one-way airline ticket home to England.
Rachel Entwistle’s stepfather, Joseph Matterazzo, testified that Neil Entwistle called him from his parents’ home in Worksop, England, several times in the days after the killings.
During one conversation, Matterazzo told Entwistle that he and Rachel’s mother were making funeral arrangements.
“He asked me if Rachel and Lilly could be buried together,” Matterazzo said.
“He says, ’because that’s the way I left them, I mean, that’s the way I found them,’ “ Matterazzo recalled Entwistle saying.
When Assistant District Attorney Michael Fabbri asked Matterazzo if he was certain of what Entwistle said, Matterazzo replied emphatically, “That’s exactly what he said.”
-- The Associated Press
Entwistle told the police he returned him from doing errands on Jan. 20, 2006, and found his wife and daughter lying together in bed, dead from gunshot wounds. He said he pulled a heavy comforter over them, and returned to England distraught, without calling the police.
Prosecutors say searches of Entwistle’s computer records from the months before the killings showed he had looked online for escort services, and had researched methods of murder and suicide.
Matterazzo said Entwistle called him from England the day after Hopkinton police found the bodies and in a “whimpering” voice told him that he had discovered his wife and daughter fatally shot in their bed three days earlier.
“He said, ’Hi, Joe. I don’t know how things got like this,’ “ Matterazzo recalled Entwistle saying.
“I asked him, ’Neil, did you do this or do you know who did this?’ “ Matterazzo said.
“He said, ’No, I do not.’”
Matterazzo said Entwistle also told him that there were many reporters at his parents’ house in England and “that he was concerned that everybody was pointing the finger at him.”
Entwistle also said that news reports about him searching Internet sex sites were “ridiculous,” Matterazzo said.
Matterazzo also testified about taking Entwistle target shooting with him twice during the fall of 2005. During the first outing, he said he showed Entwistle how to load and fire several guns, including the .22-caliber revolver authorities say Entwistle used to kill his wife and daughter.
During one of the phone calls Entwistle made from England, he talked about the guns, Matterazzo said.
“He mentioned a couple of times about the fact that he knew I had guns in the house,” Matterazzo said. “I asked him, ’Why do you care that I had guns in the house?’ "
The prosecutor asked Matterazzo what Entwistle’s response was.
“Nothing,” he said.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 3:40 PM
State considers whether it's ready if a hurricane hits
Is Rhode Island ready for a hurricane?
This morning, federal, state and local officials involved in public safety, business, and the public sector met at the Radisson in Warwick for the annual hurricane conference hosted by the state Emergency Management Agency.
Hurricane season officially began on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30, though for Rhode Island, the worst hurricanes have struck in August and September.
The speakers discussed the state’s progress in training enough volunteers to staff Red Cross shelters, as well as launching shelters for the pets who’d otherwise be stranded in a storm.
The state is building relationships with the business community, and some corporations have signed up with the Red Cross to train their own employees as shelter volunteers to be dispatched in a statewide emergency. The senior operations manager for Wal-Mart Stores’ emergency management department talked about how the corporate giant established its own methods for responding to a disaster –– getting its stores re-opened and serving communities devastated by a natural or man-made disaster.
On the horizon is one more tool that will affect how Rhode Island responds to a major crisis. Maj. Gen. Robert T. Bray said he wants to have the state emergency operations center open 24-hours a day by October.
Bray, who is the director of the state EMA and adjutant general of the Rhode Island National Guard, said the National Guard Bureau is initiating this 24-7 push in all of the states, and that some are already working collaboratively with the National Guard. The federal funding from the National Guard would mean putting Guardsmen in the state Emergency Operations Center. How it will work, and how it will be funded, are still questions to be answered.
-- Journal staff writer Amanda Milkovits
Posted by Jack Perry at 1:55 PM
Photos: Beating the heat at Lincoln's Olney Pond
Journal photos/ Bill Murphy
Nathan Pereira, age 1, takes a dip this morning at Olney Pond at Lincoln Woods State Park.
Sabrina Pereira, age 4, heads for the beach after taking a swim in Olney Pond.
Lifeguard Chelsea Gibbons (left), age 18, of Cumberland, struggles with a broken umbrella. Keeping an eye on the swimmers is fellow lifeguard Laura Ginish (right), age 21, from Lincoln.
Cassandra Bey (left) of Providence and Milton Goncalves (right) of Pawtucket cool off this morning.
Looking to cool off with a dip today? Check our guide to state beaches, the state's Beach Monitoring program and coastal water temperatures before you go.
Posted by Jack Perry at 12:47 PM
Update: Sen. Kennedy returns home to Cape / Photo
AP photo / Joel Page
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., returns to his Hyannisport, Mass. home, today.
BOSTON -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said it was "good to be home" after flying back to Massachusetts on Monday, one week after undergoing an aggressive and delicate surgery to treat a cancerous brain tumor.
Kennedy left the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., on Monday morning and arrived at his family's compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod just before noon.
Kennedy, who was wearing a hat, told reporters waiting outside his home it was "good to be home, good to be here."
When asked how he was feeling, he said, "Glad to be home, I'll tell ya."
His son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, is doing well after the surgery. "It went better than anyone expected," Kennedy said last night at the Rhode Island Democratic State Convention.
Sen. Kennedy's office released a statement today, saying the senator's "doctors are pleased with his progress since surgery a week ago, and he will continue to recuperate at home before starting the next phase of his treatment. He is thankful for the extraordinary care of the doctors and nurses at Duke, and also for the continued prayers and well wishes from the people of Massachusetts and all over the country."
Patrick Kennedy said his father is now looking ahead to working with Sen. Barack Obama, whom the Rhode Island Democratic Party yesterday endorsed unanimously for president.
"I know he's planning for the future," Patrick Kennedy said of his father, "and being chairman of the committee that will consider the health-care legislation when Obama is president."
Sen. Kennedy has worked for universal health care since his election to the senate in 1962. His recent illness, according to Patrick Kennedy, has added urgency to the potential legislation.
He really wants to make sure that he's ready to go," Patrick Kennedy said about his father, "so that he can make health care available to everyone else who needs it."
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Scott MacKay and the Associated Press
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 12:43 PM
Firefighters called to fire in Pawtucket
PAWTUCKET -- Firefighters are responding to a fire at 210 Harrison St., according to fire dispatch.
No other details were available.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 11:50 AM
Salmonella found in plum, roma and round tomatoes
The thought of a ripe, red tomato may sound pretty good right now, but choose carefully.
The Food and Drug Administration has expanded a warning that a salmonellosis outbreak has been linked to certain red plum, red roma and red round tomatoes.
The warning does not apply to cherry or grape tomatoes, or to tomatoes still attached to the vine.
Since mid-April, nearly 150 cases of salmonella Saintpaul –– including 23 hospitalizations –– have been reported in states including Connecticut.
According to a statement from the FDA, tomatoes from the following places have not been associated with the outbreak: Arkansas, California, Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Belgium, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, Netherlands, and Puerto Rico.
Find the updated list of safe tomatoes on the FDA’s Web site.
Salmonellosis is caused by the Salmonella bacteria and can be fatal in the most severe cases.
It can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and typically clears up on its own.
But in infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, the illness –– particularly severe diarrhea –– can require hospitalization.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 11:41 AM
State budget could get committee vote Wednesday
PROVIDENCE -- The House Finance Committee has marked a major juncture in this year’s waning legislative session by posting notice that it may unveil -- and vote -- on Wednesday on an as yet unseen version of the new state budget for the year that begins on July 1.
The meeting has been posted for 1 p.m. Wednesday on the bill officially known as “H7390.’’
As State House veterans know, the meeting may be postponed for hours, days, and longer than that if the House, the Senate and in some years, the governor’s office are unable to reach agreements as happened with the mid-year budget repair bill that was posted and postponed numerous times before it finally cleared the House Finance Committee earlier this spring.
But when asked the likelihood House Finance will vote on the big 2008-09 money bill on Wednesday, House spokesman Larry Berman earlier today said: ‘’They are likely to do the budget on Wednesday, but it is always subject to any last minute change in scheduling.’’
The bill in its current state reflects what Republican Governor Carcieri proposed early this winter. Since then revenue estimates have dropped, and the potential deficit next year has swelled to $425 million by one estimate, though the governor and others believe it may be higher.
To plug a hole like that, lawmakers have had to at least consider program cuts that would go well beyond what Carcieri proposed, with organized labor -- and some impassioned community activitists -- urging more dramatic steps ranging from tax hikes, to the reversal or postponement of income tax cuts for the state’s wealthiest citizens, to sale of the state Lottery.
But in an interview last week, House Finance Committee Chairman Steven M. Costantino said he has "major issues" with using bonds or selling the state’s bridges or lottery to help close the gap, but left the door open for limited "one-time fixes."
"One-shot deals for one-time expenditures aren’t necessarily a bad thing," he said, while refusing to explain what one-time revenue sources he would support.
-- Katherine Gregg of the Journal State House Bureau
Posted by Mike McKinney at 11:26 AM
Entwistle jury hears testimony from target shooter
WOBURN, Mass. -- The trial of a British man accused in the fatal shootings of his wife and baby daughter is continuing with testimony from a man who went target shooting with the defendant.
Neil Entwistle is charged with killing his wife, 27-year-old Rachel Entwistle, and their 9-month-old daughter, Lillian Rose, in their Hopkinton home.
Today Entwistle's defense attorneys cross-examined Rachel Entwistle's uncle, Lloyd Cooke.
Cooke testified Friday that he and Rachel Entwistle's stepfather, Joe Matterazzo, went target shooting with Neil Entwistle twice in the months before the killings.
Prosecutors claim Entwistle took Matterazzo's .22-caliber handgun out of a locked gun case to kill his wife and daughter, then drove from Hopkinton to the Matterazzo home in Carver to return it.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 11:16 AM
Gas increases six cents, up for 11th straight week
The average price of gasoline has increased for the 11th straight week, hitting $4.079 per gallon for regular, unleaded at self-service pumps in Rhode Island, according to AAA Southern New England's most recent survey.
That's six cents more than last week.
Nationally, the average price hit $4 per gallon this weekend for the first time ever.
Rhode Island drivers are now paying $1.07 more per gallon for gasoline than they were at this time last year, according to AAA's most recent survey.
Find the most up-to-date local gas prices with the AAA Fuel Finder by logging onto AAA.com and clicking on Gas Saving Tips & Tools. AAA members can also obtain a copy of the Gas Watcher’s Guide at their local AAA Southern New England office.
Here's AAA's fuel saving tip of the week: Use the air conditioner conservatively. Most air conditioners have an “economy” or “recirculation” setting that reduces the amount of hot outside air that must be chilled. Both settings can reduce the air-conditioning load – and save gas.
Here are some links that could help you save:
Find cheaper gas near you
RIPTA's carpool tool
Increase your gas mileage
Calculate your fuel costs
AAA daily fuel gauge report for Providence metro area
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:23 AM
Bill Cosby, ex-inmate celebrate education at ACI/ Photo
Journal photo/ Mary Murphy
Bill Cosby, right, pats Andres Idarraga on the back after Idarraga's keynote speech at the graduations for inmates in various programs at the John J. Moran Medium Security facility at the ACI. Idarraga is a former inmate. His father, Argemiro, is on the left
CRANSTON -- Comedian and education advocate Bill Cosby today joined a former inmate, who's heading to Yale Law School, to speak about something that's important to them both -- education.
Wearing a Community College of Rhode Island t-shirt, white sweatpants and his trademark dark shades, Cosby told a group of more than 200 inmates at an education recognition ceremony, that the world would be better with them in it.
“Responsibility is what it’s about,” he said in an earnest and at times funny speech.
“You can’t go back and let people wait on you. If you want more, you have to give more you have to believe in you. You have to get up. Get up.”
Cosby’s speech followed one by Andres Idarraga, a convicted cocaine dealer who began his college career while he was in jail through a joint CCRI/Department of Corrections education program.
Idarraga, who begins Yale Law School in the fall, spoke today to three inmates who had earned Associate Degrees through the program, and more than 200 who earned high school equivalency or other education certificates while at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston.
Cosby, who has a home in Massachusetts, came to the ACI at his own expense after an invitation, said ACI spokeswoman Tracey Poole.
“He’s here because of his personal mission to speak about education,” she said.
Cosby told the group that in their lives, they could have bursts of achievement and success that would overshadow the mistakes they’d made in the past. But it was up to them.
“You did wrong, you got busted,” he said.
“But are you still dumb?”
--projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson, with reports from Journal staff writer Tom Mooney
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 10:00 AM
Walk, bike, but don't get in the Woonasquatucket River
Sometimes heat makes us do irrational things.
With temperatures expected to hit the mid 90s, and a heat index shooting past 100 degrees, any body of water might start to look tempting.
But the Environmental Protection Agency is reminding people –– especially residents of North Providence, Johnston and Providence –– to steer clear of the Woonasquatucket River, which has sediment that’s contaminated with dioxins.
Of course, it's still a beautiful river in places, and local groups have been working with the EPA to clean contaminated areas and make the river and its banks a pleasant place to be.
So walk, run or bike along the river's edge. Even take a canoe or kayak on the river, but be sure to wash thoroughly after any contact with the water or sediment. And here are some more tips for safely enjoying the river:
Don’t eat fish, turtles, eels or other wildlife or plants from the Woonasquatucket River.
Don’t wade in the shallow water or swim in the river.
Don’t dig into the river banks.
Do obey warning signs posted along the river.
For more information, see information from the EPA about the Woonasquatucket River.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 9:54 AM
Providence crew visits Providence city today
Providence, the city, will host crew of Providence, the submarine, today.
The crew of the USS Providence, a Los Angeles-class sub, is slated to visit for one day.
The reason? To "renew and further strengthen the bond of friendship between Providence sailors and the residents of its namesake city," according to a news release.
Scheduled are a “U.S.S. Providence Day” proclamation from the mayor's office, crew member visits to St. Joseph Living Center and Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center, a speaking engagement with the Providence Rotary Club, a Navy League reception and a Pawtucket Red Sox ball game.
“We’ve enjoyed a long and prosperous relationship with the city of Providence,” Michael Holland, the U.S.S. Providence's commander, said in the statement.
“USS Providence Day gives us the opportunity to show our appreciation to the city that has supported us for more than 20 years.”
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 9:03 AM
R.I. National Guard unit returns today
Members of the Rhode Island Air National Guard are set to return to the Ocean State this morning after a 6-month deployment in Saudi Arabia.
The 25 members of the 143rd Airlift Wing’s 143 Security Forces Squadron are set to arrive at Quonset Point Air National guard Base at 11 a.m. today.
The unit was deployed in December and worked on airbase ground defense and law enforcement for a housing area for U.S. forces in the Riyadh area.
The 143rd Squadron was the first National Guard unit in Rhode Island to deploy after the attacks of Sept. 11, leaving for command headquarters in Florida by Sept. 16. Since then they have been continuously deployed, serving in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Guantanamo Bay.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 8:12 AM
Update: The heat is on, record could fall/ Photo
Journal photo/ Bill Murphy
The sun peeks through the leaves this morning as Rhode Island prepares for another hot and humid day.
One hundred and seven degrees.
OK, the mercury isn't supposed to really climb that high, it's actually set to reach the mid-to-upper 90s, potentially breaking the 1984 record of 95 degrees.
And the National Weather Service is forecasting the heat index could climb well past 100 degrees today.
And with that heat comes alerts and hazardous weather watches.
The Department of Environmental Management has issued an air quality alert, warning of potentially dangerous levels of ozone, which is created when smog is heated near the earth's surface. Ozone can cause respiratory problems, especially in children and the elderly.
This alert means public transportation will be free -- which is a win-win since not only does that mean you can stay out of the heat, it may also keep some cars off the road, limiting emissions that contribute to ozone creation.
NWS has also issued a general excessive heat watch. High temperatures and humidity can lead to health problems aside from respiratory -- among them heat stroke. People suffer heat stroke when their bodies become unable to regulate temperature; humidity keeps sweat from evaporating, and the body can't cool down. Heat stroke can be fatal.
The National Weather Service recommends staying out of the sun and drinking lots of water -- no alcohol! -- and finding an air conditioned place to rest.
Besides the heat, there's a slight chance of thunderstorms later this afternoon, and a south wind 5 to 10 mph.
There's also a chance of showers tonight, otherwise we'll have cloudy skies and a low temperature hitting about 71 degrees.
Another chance of showers tomorrow afternoon. We may see high winds and lots of lightening. And the temperature? It's set to hit 98 degrees -- without the heat index.
Keep an eye on the heat at projo.com's weather page.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 8:08 AM
Working on the Providence waterfront
Can Providence do more with its waterfront? Some people think so.
In an opinion piece in Friday's Journal, Mayor David N. Cicilline shared some of his ideas for a mixed-use neighborhood on the waterfront along Allens Avenue.
Beginning today, residents will have the chance to add their opinions at the first of a series of forums titled “Providence Tomorrow.”
The forums will begin this morning with presentations on regulations, the environment, and the current practices at the port.
Tomorrow will bring presentations by city planners from Portland, Maine, and Baltimore. They’ll discuss ways to revive commercial waterfront land for mixed uses. And there will be small group discussions, which will continue Wednesday.
Thursday night, Cicilline and the City Council will do a final presentation –– the results of which will help guide the city’s Comprehensive Plan, Cicilline said in a statement.
For more information, call the city’s Department of Planning and Development: (401) 351-4300 or download a .PDF copy of the full schedule.
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 7:55 AM
1 dies, 4 injured when lightning strikes Conn. beach
MADISON, Conn. -- A state official says one person has died and four remain hospitalized after lightning struck a pavilion at Hammonasset Beach State Park.
Dennis Schain of the Department of Environmental Protection says the lightning struck shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday near the West Beach parking area.
The names of the victims have not been released. Schain says the person who died was brought to the Shoreline Clinic in Essex.
No other details are available.
Hammonasset is Connecticut's largest shoreline park, with more than 2 miles of beach along Long Island Sound.
Strong thunderstorms moved through the state on Sunday afternoon. Connecticut Light & Power says nearly 26,000 of its customers in the state are without power.
Video: See footage from the scene.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Brandie M. Jefferson at 7:46 AM
Today in history: Author Dickens died
On this day in 1870, author Charles Dickens died at the age of 58.
Check out more from today in history.
View a video report on today in history.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:02 AM
Today's front page
Today's front page features a story about Andres Idarraga, a former inmate at the ACI who went on to graduate from Brown University and has been accepted to the nation's top law school at Yale University.
Download today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM